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Latif Nasser Of ‘Connected’ On The Double-Edged Sword Of Scientific Discovery

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Latif Nasser is well aware that a global pandemic makes a weird time to drop his new Netflix series Connected — a show in which he takes several connecting flights per episode and attempts to illustrate how we’re all inextricably linked to one another. But while Connected feels tonally discordant with the panic and angst of COVID, there’s a strange comfort in being reminded that even though the call to socially distance has changed our way of life, our connections to one another and our planet endure.

Over the course of six episodes, Nasser — the acclaimed Radiolab researcher, podcaster, and science historian — guides us through single-topic episodes that cover everything from nukes to poop. Using humor and wit to tease out larger topics, the true draw of Connected is how it opens up rabbit holes and then invites viewers to dive ever deeper. Something changes in you when you learn how the secrets to a healthy future lay in the poop of the past, or just how much good has come out of the invention of the nuclear bomb. Each episode is informative, funny, and makes a worthy watch for anyone who wants to get absolutely tripped out on science.

We spoke with Nasser over the phone the day after Connected‘s Netflix premiere.

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Radiolab sits pretty comfortably in the audio medium, what advantages do you have entering a visual medium for Connected and what are you having the most fun with personally?

It’s a totally bizarre jump from radio to TV, there are so many parts of the documentary making toolkit that I know and I use all the time, and there are so many other parts for the visuals that I was just so dumb about. It’s been this great learning experience.

Hopefully, there are some tricks and narrative moves we use all the time on Radiolab that I’ve been able to sort of smuggle into tv.

It was the most fun to be able to play with the graphics team that I worked with. They are just so inspired, people who are touched with a gift. To commission them like “Okay, what I need is a graphic that is like the Beijing National Stadium and the Hoover Dam but smooshed together, because that’s the amount of dust that goes into the Amazon —“ or “I need a spherical theater that represents weather forecasting that’s going on in a supercomputer but its actually an orchestra” I would have these very very specific requests for them and they would come back with these dazzling beautiful gems, just cranking them out. I was so lucky to have them.

It’s one thing to explain something complicated on the radio where you don’t have a visual component, but to be able to use visuals and have a team of people that are excited and inspired and churning out these gorgeous graphics, makes the show worth watching for their graphics alone!

In addition to being a historian of science, I’ve read that you’re also a theater kid. How does that interest in theater influence the way in which you tell stories?

That’s what I studied as an undergrad and I still think that so many of those techniques and tools from playwriting have taught me that everything has to have a beginning, middle, and end. There has to be an inciting incident, there need to be obstacles, and tension, we need to have a main character, that character needs to go on a journey. I still do all of that stuff, obviously, I’m not playwriting science — in that I fact check everything — but the techniques, the dramatic structure, and dramaturgy of it.

I approach it like this: whether you’re telling true stories or whether you’re telling fictional stories, people take them the same way, they want the same things, they crave that plot and character development. Using those dramatic techniques is sort of a natural fit in the documentary world, I feel.

How do you decide which topics to explore from episode to episode? With names like “Surveillance,” “Dust,” “Poop,” it feels like an episode can be about anything and everything, but you still managed to filter it down into a tight six.

I think that’s part of the fun of TV, there are an infinite amount of options here, which is alluring and paralyzing. A few of the things I thought about when trying to get it down to the tight six, is that I wanted a nice spread. “Poop” was sort of a natural thing, that’s just a thing that I’m always interested in and will always seek out stories about. Benford’s Law was a thing that kept coming up while I was researching other stuff then it almost became like a dare, “Could you really make a 45-minute episode about a mathematical observation, it feels like there is no way to do that.” Okay yeah, we’re going to do that!

I wanted a climate change-y episode to think about, so “Clouds” kind of covers that and felt like a satisfying way to touch on that. Overall, I wanted a really nice spread to feel like we were touching all kinds of different science, sort of just to try out. It feels like a new car, you want to test out the premise of the show, you want to road test it, does it work with this kind of thing? Can I use it to talk about surveillance which is a different thing than dust?

It’s a really fun premise, such a liberating premise, almost too liberating. But it’s guided by my own excitement and curiosity and I think it led me to very different and very strange places.

That’s kind of the charm of the show, each topic is a rabbit hole that pulls you in. Let’s take “Poop” for example, I was hesitant to watch that episode, but once you learn one thing it kind of compounds into another in a fascinating way. What things have you discovered that completely blew your mind in a way you didn’t expect?

The dust story, to get a little bit personal. It was supposed to be about dust but what it ended up being was an episode about life and death and it became weirdly personal. While this was shooting I lost a friend of mine, and what was supposed to be about dust, then ended up being this meditation on life and death that was truly shocking. It’s supposed to be over here and dead and just sitting here, but its not. It moves and it fertilizes and it pollinates and it does some bad and scary stuff too.

But just the idea that things that are dead have these afterlives that are going on all around us. It was emotionally shocking for me to tell this story at a time when I had lost my friend and I was very sad about it. Revisiting this story over and over, to have to shoot it and talk to people about it and edit it, it was sort of a weird but cathartic experience.

Do you think technology and advancement will always be a double-edged sword? I think about the episode on surveillance. The way Tinder had 800 pages on Judith was chilling, but that same technology can also lead to a world where pigs and other animals are more ethically farmed, which is an important change. It’s always this give and take.

You know, that’s the story of the history of science. You can’t predict and things end up being way better or way worse than you could’ve ever imagined. That’s everything, that’s all around us. Tupperware was made from gas mask technology in World War 2, everything around us is products of this double-edged sword. We have to marvel at that. What a world we live in where all this is possible, so much is possible for the big and the bad.

First, it opens your eyes, but then it makes you realize you’re so much more responsible for the world around us and the way we use all of these things.

Given the title of the show and this new era of social distancing, how do continue to stay connected while living through this unprecedented time where we have to be disconnected from one another for our own safety?

Yeah, it’s a funny moment right? It feels like an especially strange moment to release a show out in the world that is about those connections, dwelling on those connections. It’s me taking these connected flights all over the world to report these stories, and it’s coming out to this world that’s kind of shut down. My family is in Canada, we’re shut down. We’re all shutdown in our homes, there is this profound irony, but it makes me think, “we think these things are shut down, but we’re kidding ourselves.”

There are these connections, they exist. No matter what we do the world is going to be this connected place, it’s going to surprise us the ways in which it is. For COVID that’s a scary thing because there is a danger there, but I do think that hopefully, the idea of this show is to say “Look, the world isn’t just connected in the way you think it is, it’s connected in all these other ways too”

“Connected” Is Available To Stream Now On Netflix.

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The Advantages of Online Casino Welcome Bonuses

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When it comes to online gambling, the industry is thriving in 2020. Although casinos are banned in many countries, people still find ways to enjoy their favorite games of chance. However, considering the level of competition on the market, it may be difficult for a beginner to find a good online platform and take advantage of all offers. In this article, you will learn the benefits of casinos’ welcome bonuses.

What Is a Sign-Up Bonus?

As we have already established, the industry is growing rapidly and companies are desperately looking for new ways to attract customers. A welcome bonus is often used by online casinos to get new leads and players in the future. However, the best casino bonuses can be easily used to the player’s advantage. Here are the main reasons you should not neglect this offer.

  1. It saves your money

Quite obvious, right? Well, this is the main reason why you should always use welcome bonuses in online gambling: it is always better to not risk your own money. It is especially true for beginners. Since they have no experience, it is fairly common for beginners to lose their initial investment and be done with gambling for good. However, if you use your welcome bonus as a way of getting the basics skills, the chances of success will rise significantly.

  1. It allows you to try several games

Another common issue beginners face is a lack of understanding of which types of games they want to try: slots, roulette, baccarat, blackjack, etc. If you use your sign-up bonus, you will be able to play several games and choose the ones you like better. Moreover, you can take advantage of a welcome bonus on several online gambling platforms. That way you will try out even more options.

  1. It will make future gambling more profitable

Besides beneficial sign-up bonuses, good online casinos usually have great loyalty programs. For instance, the company may double up to five first deposits on the platform. If you invest 100 USD, you will get 200 USD to your account. More money — more games — more chances of winning.

Although a welcome bonus is a great way of upping your gambling game, there are a few things you should pay attention to. Firstly, a good bonus does not equal a good platform. Before choosing a casino, make sure that the company is legal and trustworthy. Since there are many scams right now, it is essential if you want to save your money. Moreover, check the available deposit/withdrawal methods and their terms.

We hope that this article has shown the true power of online casinos’ welcome bonuses and how you can use them to your own advantage. Follow our tips while choosing a platform and enjoy the best gambling experience.

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3 Key Mistakes to Avoid When Playing Blackjack

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Blackjack is the most popular casino game in the world. The card game, sometimes referred to as ‘21’, accounts for an average of 31 percent of all casino table traffic – this is consistent both online and in physical casinos. For reference, the second most popular is roulette (24%) followed by poker (21%).

It’s easy to understand blackjack’s popularity. It’s a simple game to grasp and offers players a mix of luck and skill: luck in the cards that are drawn, skill over how those cards are dealt and a player’s eventual hand. Compare that to roulette, which is based entirely on luck, and poker, which has a huge skill element to it.

However, while the beauty of blackjack is in its simplicity, there are also a number of complexities to the game, and as is the case with almost anything in life, you learn more from mistakes than successes.

With that in mind, here are three key mistakes to avoid when playing blackjack that can significantly increase your chances of winning, while limiting your losses.

Choosing the Wrong Table

Before a single card is drawn, being at the wrong table – whether live or online – is the first mistake to avoid.

First of all, each blackjack table will have different minimum bet requirements so avoid choosing one that is out of your budget. For instance, if you choose a table with a $100 minimum bet and your budget is $200, you might only play two hands.

Secondly, check the payout odds on the blackjack table. These are typically 6:5 and 3:2 and will affect how much gets paid out when you hit blackjack and land other bonus wins. Where possible, choose a 3:2 table as it pays out higher.

Thirdly, choose between a virtual and a live table. This is not so much a mistake to avoid but more comes down to personal preference. Virtual tables allow players to play against an automated computer, so you can play at your own pace, while live tables are usually quicker paced as human dealers are keen to move the game along.

When to Hit and Stand

As a general rule, most blackjack players know to hit when the hand is 12 and to stand when the hand equals 17. However, there are plenty of variables to consider that could influence when to hit and stand. Getting these right can really boost your chances of beating the house, while getting it wrong could prove costly.

One key move to implement is to always hit on a soft 17 – when the two cards are an ace and a six. This means that if you draw a 10 or picture card (jack, queen, king), then you convert your hand into a hard 17. It also gives greater flexibility if you draw a smaller value card as the ace can be used as a one.

While many players adopt a strict ‘never bust’ policy, meaning they always stand when their hand equals 12 or more, this can be ill-advised as it depends almost entirely on the dealer going bust.

Instead, analyze the value of your two cards compared to the dealer’s first card and weigh up the risk factor in drawing another card before the dealer draws their second. As a strict rule, if your first two cards equal 17 or more, then stand – anything else can be hit depending on the situation.

When to Split and Double

If you are playing in a blackjack tournament, either online or live, learning when to split and double can make all the difference to your chances of success. The same also applies to individual games of blackjack.

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Splitting is when you split two cards when dealt the same value cards, so a pair of eights for example. Doubling is when you are given the option to double your bet after being dealt your initial two cards.

While it can be tempting to split and double at every opportunity to increase your winning, doing at the right time is the key.

It is not recommended to split when:

  • You are dealt two picture cards or two 10s
  • You are dealt two 9s
  • You are dealt two 5s
  • The dealer holds a 10 or picture card

It is best to split when:

  • You are dealt two 8s
  • You are dealt two aces
  • The dealer holds a 5 or 6 (as this is the highest probability of a bust)

Similar to knowing when to hit and stand, take a brief moment to assess the dealer’s drawn card compared to your own two cards and determine whether the probabilities are in your favour.

Likewise, knowing when to double down – when not to double down – can change the complexities of your blackjack game. A simple rule to know when to double is if your two cards equal 10 and the dealer’s card is between 2-9. Additionally, if you hold an ace, you can consider a double as these have the flexibility of playing as 11 or 1. But if the dealer’s card is an ace, ignore the double.

Conclusion

Blackjack may be a simple game but there are some important strategies to keep in mind next time you head to the virtual or live table. The game itself is still rooted in luck so there are never any guarantees to long-term success. However, by keeping these three important rules in mind, you can at least avoid making avoidable mistakes.

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Top 5 Entertainment Activities for College Students

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The life of college students is sometimes too complicated. They have to face tons of homework assignments that steal their time. Many students get stressed because of continuous learning. They seem to forget how to relax. If you’re a busy student, you should remember that you’re still young and shouldn’t waste this precious life stage. You can undertake some entertainment activities sometimes. Take your friends and organize funny games to unwind and let off some pressure. We asked writing experts from a professional essay service Smart Writing Service to share their ideas and provide you with top-5 entertainment activities for college students you may like. 

Who Are You?

Students, especially freshmen, don’t know each other perfectly. They may be taken by surprise when some of them tell something quite unexpected about their hobbies, preferences, and so on. If you want to know other students better, suggest playing a game called “Who Are You”.

Form at least three teams. If there are many folks, you can form more teams. Choose a speaker of the game. It may be even one of your teachers or professors. All groups will be given topics to discuss. The speaker is supposed to announce a new topic every few minutes. You may discuss and answer the following topics:

  • What is the greatest challenge you are facing?
  • What do you like or hate most about yourself?
  • What is your greatest value in life?
  • What emotions do you express easily?
  • What is the most valuable thing in friendship?
  • Who you want to become in five years?
  • What is your major objective for next year?
  • Is there something you want to improve about yourself?
  • What motto do you try to live by?
  • Where would you like to travel?
  • If you were to study abroad, what country would that be?

Students should write their answers on index cards. The speaker should gather the answers of every student and shuffle them. Afterward, he/she redistributes them randomly to students. Each person should guess whose card he/she is holding. Play this game after you spend some time together and already know at least something about one another.

Sentence Completion

Another fun activity is “Sentence Completion.” Most people like it because it’s commonly accompanied by laughter and good mood. It’s necessary to prepare a list of sentences. Those sentences should have a beginning, but with no end. Every student should finish the sentence he/she gets. Oftentimes, students give funny answers. At times, they are quite serious, and we can learn something important about other students. Here are several sentence beginnings you may choose:

  • Before I came to college, I was interested in…
  • When I was a child, I wanted to become…
  • The best moment I remember most about high school is…
  • My favorite pet is…
  • The things I value most are…
  • Five years from now I hope to be…
  • My greatest personality trait is…
  • My favorite subject at high school was…
  • If I could change one thing in the world, it would be…
  • My greatest fear is…
  • After I graduate from college, I…

The Reception Line

You may likewise try another entertaining activity for college students. It is called “The Reception Line.” Gather all the mates eager to participate. Divide yourselves into two groups. If you form more, it won’t fit the rules of the game. Each person talks to the person in front of him/her until he/she must move. The person at the end of one line goes to the end of the other line. This method makes it possible to meet new people. Thus, students will learn more about each other. You can make shifts every next topic or set a limit. For example, the pair should discuss 5 topics and afterward move to change partners. Here are some interesting topics to discuss:

  • Where would you like to travel?
  • What motto do you try to follow?
  • What is your favorite movie?
  • What music do you like?
  • What is your favorite hobby?
  • Why did you choose this college?
  • What do you like about college life the most?

Take Sides

You can likewise suggest a game, which offers only two options. It’s called “Take Sides.” Create a list of questions with two answers. Students should obligatorily choose one of them. Afterward, you may discuss the answers. Let everyone explain his/her choices. Thus, you’ll learn more about each other, and it will bring you closer. Here are several suggestions:

  • Watermelon or banana?
  • Sweat or bitter?
  • Short trips every weekend or a journey around the world for three months?
  • Partying or hiking?
  • Listen or speak?
  • Rock or pop?
  • Morning or night?
  • Superman or Batman?
  • Robocop or Terminator?
  • Harry Potter or the Lord of the Rings?
  • Los Angeles or New York?
  • Liberal or conservative?
  • American football or ice hockey?

My Most Embarrassing Moment

You can likewise tell each other about the most embarrassing moments. It’s important to be honest and don’t imagine a story that never took place. All the participants should agree on this term. Commonly, it is a very entertaining activity. Students tell funny stories they’ve been through. It commonly makes them closer.

These activities for college students are very simple to follow. They are really entertaining. Mind that we have mentioned only 5 of them. However, you can try a hundred activities more. Use our examples to have fun and relax. They may inspire you and your friends to look for other entertaining activities.

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